NBA turns to AI to liven up its games — new NB-AI chatbot can even change how games appear in the app

NBA AI example
(Image credit: NBA)

The NBA app could be getting an artificial intelligence upgrade and it could change how you view the game forever, including giving you control over the style of the live video feed.

NB-AI is the name of a new chatbot and voice assistant being tested by the NBA that could find its way into the app in future. If realized, it will allow you to act like a director and change the live stream, or ask for extra information about the game you are watching in real time.

Revealed by commissioner Adam Silver at the league’s Tech Summit, the experimental voice assistant is trained on NBA data and uses generative AI technology similar to ChatGPT Voice.

What will NB-AI be able to do?

We haven’t seen the full potential of NB-AI yet as its an experimental preview, but the NBA described it as being about to personalize the experience of watching live games on the app. 

Exactly which styles will be available or just how far you can customize it have also not been revealed, but it could include putting it into a fully animated style or making it appear cinematic, as if it were a game playing out in a movie.

During the on stage demonstration Victor Wembanyama, French national and San Antonio Spurs number one draft pick, unveiled the live translation capabilities of NB-AI commentary, including of basketball movie. This included changing the 1986 movie Hoosiers into French.

They also demonstrated changing a recent game into a cartoon, specifically "show it as if it were a Spider-Man movie, complete with graphics and comic book style words on screen."

What else is coming from the NBA?

This isn't the only AI development coming out of the recent Tech Summit. The league also uses artificial intelligence to generate highlights in real time, provide referees with assistance, and translate play-by-plays.

Silver said during the preview: "Today, AI is creating a similar excitement to what we saw around the early days of the internet,” adding that “intuitively, most of us have a sense that artificial intelligence is going to change our lives."

The big question is how it will achieve that, to what extent it will happen, and where it will be most prevalent. Sport seems a good candidate. I even used AI to successfully predict the winner and score differential of the Super Bowl.

Wembanyama, who had a chance to try out the new NB-AI technology, described it as "incredible," adding that its early days and "only the future will say what it will look like.”

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Ryan Morrison
AI Editor

Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover. When not begrudgingly penning his own bio - a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI - Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile's life story than a silicon-based life form?